Ghostly Images of WiFi Signals Captured Using Long Exposure Photography and an Android App


So much of the world today is invisible to cameras. Technology operates in a light-less world of zeroes and ones, electromagnetic waves that fly over our heads in ever-increasing abundance.

For his fascinating project Digital Ethereal, designer Luis Hernan set out to capture one of these invisible signals, WiFi, using a creative combination of long exposure photography and an Android app.

Since you can’t just set up your camera next to your router, click the shutter button and capture a ‘stream’ of information pouring out, Hernan decided to ‘translate’ that info into light and color using an Android app called Kirlian Device mobile that visualizes WiFi signal strength using a series of colors.


The resulting images reveal these invisible signals that Hernan says remind him of ghosts. From the Digital Ethereal project website:

I believe our interaction with this landscape of electromagnetic signals, described by Antony Dunne as Hertzian Space, can be characterized in the same terms as that with ghosts and spectra.

They both are paradoxical entities, whose untypical substance allows them to be an invisible presence. In the same way, they undergo a process of gradual substantiation to become temporarily available to perception. Finally, they both haunt us. Ghosts, as Derrida would have it, with the secrets of past generations. Hertzian space, with the frustration of interference and slowness.

Here’s a look at the rest of the series:












To find out more about Digital Ethereal and explore the other fascinating ways that Hernan explored this invisible space for the project, head over to the DE website by clicking here.

(via Laughing Squid)

Image credits: Photographs courtesy of Luis Hernan/Digital Ethereal

  • Mike

    Same could be achieved using a random color flashing screen? These images are more about waving your screen around in a certain pattern.

  • Daniel Reprieto

    I like the outcome but it really isn’t capturing the wifi signals… so the title is deceiving.. PetaPixel is deceiving… The work is deceiving! your mOm is deceiving!

  • Superfreak

    For Science! Level; Discovery Crapnel.

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  • 3ric15

    Neat colors and all but this is nothing like actual wifi signals…or any radio signals at all.

  • Omar Salgado

    So, out of the Wi-Fi area domain, I get no signal, right? And I thought it flooded the space…

  • Gosseyn

    why lying to reader WHY :/ ?

  • OtterMatt

    I know electromagnetic spectrum waves can be interfered with by any number of physically solid objects, but these shots are beyond schizophrenic with the colors. I was really hoping to see a pattern of some sort, but this is just light painting with a simulated color-changing LED glowstick. And the phone didn’t work too well anyway, because there’s just so many streaky lines in the phone’s trail instead of nice smooth trails. Definitely not my speed.

  • Renato Murakami

    The ol’ interesting idea, flawed execution.

  • timelapsesux

    Here is another post from gizmodo What the World Would Look Like If You Could Actually See Wi-Fi Signals

  • Michael Pravin Lonelyhound

    have tons of these in my collection already

  • Ernie Cordell

    After seeing everyone’s reaction to the photos, I have to give my first impression of the article: “Technology operates in a light-less world of zeroes and ones” lacks both matter and art.

  • wayne carroll

    He got a grant for this? If so, it makes me wonder about the pretense of modern education. Seriously, this is just another form of light painting and not, as others have mentioned, really about WiFi, or science, for that matter.

  • Joel Penner

    Disappointed. This doesn’t show captured wifi signals at all.

  • Railton Lee Johnson

    I had to comment, but it’s all been said already. Misleading article making light painting out to be something it isn’t.

  • Guest

    OOOOOooohhhh yeah, I can do that too!!!

  • Matthew Harvey

    “using app”.. ahh.. so these are not real light capture then. Just random fakes